Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Blog about the EconomY, not about EconomISTS

Like me, you may have noticed that a significant amount of "economics" commentary has little to do with the economy (how people on earth manage its scarce resources), and much more about economists (the small group of people dedicated to studying how people on earth manage its scarce resources).

Reading that commentary, you can learn who among the economists are "foolish", "crazy", and perhaps even which of them qualifies as the "stupidest man alive."

I have nothing public to say about that subject, because I have no expertise in judging the thought processes of particular individuals (or thought processes more generally). I took dozens of courses, and have published dozens of articles, about various aspects of the economY, but never encountered a course that would even introduce me to the subject of economISTS and their individual thought processes.

It is true that I regularly interact with a special group of economists -- serve on committees with them, or attempt to convince a couple of them to publish one of my papers -- and that presents opportunities to opine on individual thought processes. But that is invariably an amateur affair, and I (and they) have found that results are better the more I stick to putting forward my best analysis of the economY.

For these reasons, I must disappoint those readers of this blog who would like to me enter the market for commentary about economISTS. I will stick with the economY, in rough proportion to the size of the various sectors (as such, economISTS are entitled to approximately 1/2000th of my attention).

1 comment:

Kevin said...

We might care for what economists say when they influence the economy. The puzzle is either Stiger is right about "Economists exert a minor and scarcely detectable influence on the societies in which they live,” and in which case we need to ask ourselves seriously if what we economists have been doing is just a meaningless job (and why we bother to write blogs even when we're not paid to do so), or if Keynes was right when he said "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back."

It's a different question to ask whether most of the current debates are misguided by emphasizing too much about economists rather than the economy. And in this sense I agree with Casey that economists should focus more on the economy, and let the public to judge which economists are right.